A DJI Study shows that civilian drones have been used to save at least 59 people in 18 different incidents around the world since 2013, with one life a week being saved by drones on average. The majority of the rescues have occurred in USA and China, although instances have occurred in Canada and Turkey as well.
In 2013, for instance, a drone was used in Canada to spot a man who was lost in a “snowy field,” according to DJI. In June 2015, drones were used to drop life vests and ropes to two teens who were at risk of drowning. They’ve also been used to find a missing heart attack victim and look from above for flooding victims. In January, rescuers employed a heat-sensing drone to find kayakers who went missing and were stranded at night. One third were saved by civilians using their hobbyist drones and not by emergency personnel, showing their far-reaching abilities. 31 lives were saved during floods, as drones spotted missing people and delivered rescue ropes and life jackets. 19 missing people were found on land, on terrain ranging from swamps to mountains to snow banks. 9 more people were rescued off beaches or in boats.
And in one case in India late in 2015, up to 200 people were rescued from severe flooding as a result of drone use; but since DJI couldn’t find a definitive number, those estimates were also excluded.
Drones are growing in popularity as more people look to take flight with small UAVs and explore the world around them. But the multitude of ways they’ve been used to save lives in recent years is staggering.
There may be some risks in the flying of unpiloted aircraft but, as we see, their advantage as the new heroes in search and rescue may outweigh the risks involved. You can read the full 6-page DJI study here.